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American Lutheranism by Friedrich Bente


13. Banished by Archbishop Anton Firmian. -- Like the Swedes in Delaware, so also the Salzburg Lutherans in Georgia, as a Church, have disappeared in the course of years. The story of their vicissitudes and especially of their colony Ebenezer, however, has retained a peculiar charm. On Reformation Day of 1731 the cruel Archbishop Anton, Knight of Firmian, issued a manifesto which ordered the Evangelicals of Salzburg, Austria, either to return to the bosom of the Catholic Church, or to emigrate, leaving their property and their young children behind them. Some eighteen thousand Lutherans chose banishment rather than deny the faith that was in them. On their journey the exiles awakened lively sympathy by singing their Exulantenlied (Hymn of the Exiles) which Joseph Schaitberger had composed for those banished In 1685. The eleven stanzas of this hymn read in the original as follows: |1. I bin ein armer Exulant, A so tu i mi schreiba; Ma tuet mi aus dem Vaterland Um Gottes Wort vertreiba.2. Das wass i wohl, Herr Jesu Christ, Es is dir a so ganga. Itzt will i dein Nachfolger sein; Herr, mach's nach deim Verlanga! 3. A Pilgrim bin i halt numehr, Muss reise fremde Strossa; Das bitt i di, mein Gott und Herr, Du wirst mi nit verlossa.4. Den Glauba hob i frei bekennt, Des derf i mi nit schaema, Wenn ma mi glei ein Ketzer nennt Und tuet mir's Leba nehma.5. Ketta und Banda wor mir en Ehr Um Jesu willa z' dulda, Und dieses macht die Glaubenslehr Und nit mei boes Verschulda.6. Muss i glei in das Elend fort, Will i mi do nit wehra; So hoff i do, Gott wird mir dort Och gute Fruend beschera.7. Herr, wie du willt, i gib mi drein, Bei dir will i verbleiba; I will mi gern dem Wille dein Geduldig unterschreiba.8. Muss i glei fort, in Gottes Nam! Und wird mir ales g'nomma, So wass i wohl, die Himmelskron Wer i amal bekomma.9. So muss i heut von meinem Haus, Die Kinderl muss i lossa. Mei Gott, es treibt mir Zaehrel aus, Zu wandern fremde Strossa.10. Mein Gott, fuehr mi in ene Stodt, Wo i dein Wort kann hoba, Darin will i di frueh und spot In meinem Herzel loba.11. Soll i in diesem Jammertal Noch laenger in Armut leba, So hoff i do, Gott wird mir dort Ein bessre Wohnung geba.| -- The cruelly persecuted and banished Salzburgers were hospitably received in Prussia and Holland, where many found a permanent home. Others resolved to emigrate to Georgia, where, through the mediation of Dr. Urlsperger of Augsburg and the court preacher Ziegenhagen of London, the British government promised them religious liberty and other advantages.

14. Ebenezer in Georgia. -- The first ninety-one persons of the Salzburg colony, which later numbered about 1,200 souls, landed at Savannah, March 10, 1734. They were accompanied by Pastors John Martin Bolzius and Israel Christian Gronau, who had received their education at Halle. Governor Oglethorpe led the immigrants twenty-three miles northwest of their landing-place, where they erected a monument of stones and called the settlement Ebenezer. Seven years later (1741) Jerusalem Church was built, for which also Whitefield had made collections in Europe. In 1743 a second church was dedicated in the country. Dr. Graebner records the following statistics: |In 1743 the congregation numbered 279 souls: 81 men, 70 married women, 6 widows, 52 boys, 59 girls, and 11 maid-servants.| (554.) In 1744 the Salzburgers celebrated the tenth anniversary of their deliverance on the tenth of March, a day which was annually observed by them as a day of thanksgiving. Sorrow followed the joyous celebration, for in the following year, January 11, 1745, their beloved Pastor Gronau was called to his eternal reward. Dwelling on Gronau's edifying death, Bolzius wrote in a letter dated January 14, 1845: |His heart was in deep communion with the dear Savior. With profound desire he received the Lord's Supper a few days before his dissolution. He distinctly recognized all who surrounded him [when he was dying], and exhorted them to praise God. It seemed, and such was also inferred from his words, as though, like Stephen, he saw something extraordinarily beautiful and glorious. At last, after stretching forth his hands and taking leave of all, he directed his folded hands toward heaven, praying and praising God. Finally, saying, 'Do come, Lord Jesus, Amen, Amen, Amen!' he closed his eyes and mouth, and entered peacefully into the joy of God.| (556.) Gronau was succeeded by Pastor H. H. Lemke, of Schaumburg, who previously had been active in the institutions at Halle. His diploma of vocation was signed by Samuel Urlsperger in the stead and name of the English Society for the Promotion of the Knowledge of Christ. Thus Ebenezer was actually the foundation of a mission society whose members were for the most part adherents of the Reformed Church. In 1742 Pastor John Ulrich Driessler had been called to the congregation of Frederica, south of Savannah. He entered upon his labors in 1744, and died three years later. In the following years several ships arrived bringing emigrants from Swabia. To meet the growing needs Pastor Chr. Rabenhorst was sent to the colony in 1753. In 1765 Pastor Bolzius died, sixty-two years old, repeating the words: |Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which Thou hast given Me.| (John 17, 24.) None of the three pastors, who were easily able to minister to the spiritual needs of the colony, displayed a missionary spirit in any marked degree.

15. Dissension and Disintegration. -- While Bolzius, Lemke, and Rabenhorst had labored together in harmony, dissension and strife began to blast the blissful peace and quiet contentment of Ebenezer, when, after the death also of Lemke, Pastor C. F. Triebner arrived in 1773. The congregation was torn by factions, the minority siding with Triebner in his bitter opposition to Rabenhorst. When the majority refused Triebner permission to officiate in the church, the minority forced the doors. After a new lock had been secured by the majority, the minority began to conduct separate services in the home of John Wertsch, and entered suit before the Governor of Georgia. This brought about the loss of their church property, the Governor, in accordance with the express wording of the patent grant of April 2, 1771, deeding Jerusalem Church to the Episcopalians. The patent contained the provision: |... for the only proper use, benefit, and behoof of two ministers of the Gospel, residents within the parish aforesaid, using and exercising divine service according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England within the said parish and their successors forever.| (599.) In 1774 Muhlenberg arrived, commissioned by the |English Society| to conduct an investigation and restore peace. A reconciliation was effected, and articles of agreement were signed by the pastors and the members of the congregation. Before long, however, the old discord broke out again and continued unabated until the death of Pastor Rabenhorst in 1777. Triebner now secured a firm footing in the congregation. But new storms were brewing for the poor people. In 1775 the War of Independence had broken out, in which Triebner not only espoused the cause of England himself, but urged his congregation to do the same, thereby bringing untold misery upon Ebenezer. Triebner, taken captive and severely dealt with, finally found his way back to Europe. After the war Ebenezer presented a sad spectacle. Soldiers had used the church as a hospital and stable; Rabenhorst's home had been given to the flames; fields were laid waste; and the inhabitants were scattered and despoiled of their property. The congregation, however, recovered, and through the endeavors of Urlsperger received a new pastor in the person of John Ernest Bergmann, who had studied at Leipzig. In 1785 he assumed the duties at Ebenezer, formerly discharged by two and three pastors. But, though a diligent worker, Bergmann was not a faithful Lutheran, nor did he build up a truly Lutheran congregation. There came a time when but very little of Lutheranism was to be found in the old colony of the Salzburgers. (600.) During Bergmann's long pastorate, which was conducted in the German language exclusively until 1824, the Americanized young people gradually began to drift away from the mother church. However, to the present day descendants of the Salzburgers are found in the Lutheran congregations of Savannah and of the Georgia Synod.

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